Dainippon Screen is renowned for making top-end prepress products such as CTP, rips and workflow, and the same quality-first philosophy has been implanted into its digital presses, first with continuous feed, and more recently with sheetfed B2
Screen burst onto the digital press market in 2006 with a high-volume inkjet press unlike anything else available at the time. Called the Truepress Jet 520, it operated at 64 or 128 metres per minute in full cmyk colour and could handle variable data in either reel-to-reel or reel-to-sheet configurations. The first customer was IBM’s Infoprint division (now part of Ricoh) who saw the potential for leveraging its strong position in transactional and essential mail printing from mono to full colour. IBM ordered 100 presses and badged them as Infoprint 5000s, a name that continues under the Ricoh ownership.
Screen itself marketed the presses under the Truepress Jet 520 name and over the past five years has extended the range, upgraded the configurations and has pushed into book, newspaper and commercial print markets. Today there are nine models available covering mono and colour applications in simplex or duplex and with throughput speeds of between 32 and 220 metres per minute across a 520mm or 570mm web. This equates to 25,000 to 174,000 A4 page impressions per hour.
Screen uses inkjet printing heads manufactured by Epson, the world’s leading maker of piezo-driven printheads. Truepress Jet 520s can be linked to a variety of feeding and finishing equipment but in Australia and New Zealand, a strategic partnership with Hunkeler means that the unwinders, rewinders and sheeter-stackers of choice are from this Swiss manufacturer, which leads the world in fast paper handling.
As you would expect from a prepress company with workflow and CTP, Screen has developed a sophisticated workflow for its high volume digital presses, called Equios.
Based on the successful Trueflow SE workflow, Equios enables balanced and fast processing of PDF and PS files and says the company has excellent colour management credentials including Pantone and Pantone GOE libraries. As a hybrid workflow, Equios can also drive other devices such as wide-format printers, CTP and even online conversion of PDFs to HTML – opening the entire online publishing world to Truepress Jet users from the same workflow.
Screen also has a sheetfed digital press, the Truepress Jet SX, under development. It was shown at Ipex 2010 and also uses Epson inkjet technology. With a B2 sheet size, the SX will introduce four-up sheetfed printing into the digital press world. It is designed to be a one-operator simple-to-use press that delivers photographic quality on standard offset paper stocks. The release date of the SX is yet to be confirmed but commercial shipments could be expected around drupa time, May next year.
For now, Screen’s digital press focus in Australia is on high volume continuous feed. The first installation in our region was at Astra Printing, Wellington, where the press is producing mostly books in runs of up to 1500. For publishers, this kind of digital production is a very attractive proposition, as it enables them to eliminate inventory and yet respond quickly to supply-demand for particular titles.
One example of the way in which high volume digital printing can change a business is a client’s job that regularly required 750 copies of a 1,000 page book. Produced using offset, this job typically took 150 hours and involved up to 20 people. Once it was converted to digital on the Screen Truepress Jet 520, it took only 15 hours with no more than two or three operators involved.
The flagship of Screen’s digital press range today is the Truepress Jet 520ZZ which is available as either a 150 or 220 metres-per-minute model. Such productivity is not for everyone, which is why there are several options all the way down to 32 metres-per-minute and at higher resolution. The 520ZZ is aimed at printers who already have existing page volumes in the tens of millions per month. These are typically transactional and essential mail printers, trade book printers and newspapers. The monthly duty cycles of Screen digital presses are in the 30-80 million pages per month area depending on the model.
For variable data printing, Screen partners with GMC software, whose PrintNet T is the solution of choice for the majority of variable data printers globally. Screen is also fully ready for Adobe’s PDF V/T – variable transactional – format soon to be commercialised with PDF Print Engine 2.5. Equios workflow has a partnership club of over 30 companies to ensure compatibility with other manufacturer’s devices and software.
Dainippon Screen sees its future increasingly involving digital presses and related workflows. CTP for both offset and flexo remains a strong performer and Screen holds around 45 pr cent of world market share in CTP. Digital presses, particularly high volume inkjet, is mostly a new, not replacement market and competition is plentiful and tough but, from its pioneering start five years ago and leading number of installations, Screen is determined to consolidate and build on its market position in this growth area.